MVNO: Biyani plans to partner Tata Tele

Purvita Chatterjee Mumbai | Updated on January 20, 2018

Kishore Biyani, CEO

Will seek virtual network licence for Future Group; expand existing tie-up for T24 brand

A day after the Telecom Commission accepted telecom regulator TRAI’s recommendation to allow mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) in the telecom space, Future group’s Kishore Biyani said he would apply for an MVNO licence once the policy was formally announced.

In an exclusive interaction with BusinessLine, the Future Group CEO said he would shortly initiate discussions with Tata Teleservices to lease spectrum and infrastructure. The MVNO venture will be under an agreement Future Group had signed with Tata Tele in 2010 to offer SIM cards under the brand T24. The retail giant offers free talk time to its consumers based on the purchases they make across its retail formats such as Big Bazaar, Central and Foodhall.

Riding on T24

“We will definitely look at becoming an MVNO operator since there is huge potential in this business,” said Biyani. “Today, we already have 50 lakh subscribers for T24 and want to take it up to 2 crore. It is going to be a big business for us and we will apply for the licence once the policy is implemented.’’

Future Group has already sold more than ₹136 crore worth of free talk time. T24 is currently a prepaid card and part of the retail giant’s loyalty programme. Under existing laws the Future Group cannot offer billing or customer care to T24 subscribers and has to depend on Tata Tele. But once it becomes an MVNO the retailer will be in a better position to customise its tariff plans.

It could possibly take a more front end position and design services specifically for consumers shopping at its stores, which could include data services at lower prices.

However, some analysts reckon this will not be a huge revenue earner for the Future Group even though the number of subscribers might increase over time.

“It will predominantly be a dormant additional SIM card lying with the customer, who probably will not use it beyond a first-time transaction. There is unlikely to be enough revenue generation and it will remain only a part of the Future group’s loyalty programme,” says Vishal Tripathi, Principal Research Analyst, Gartner.

Future Group had also toyed with the idea of selling mobile handsets under its private label Koryo but decided against it. “We do not want to get into handsets right now,’’ said Biyani.

Published on March 29, 2016

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